Iraq and Gulf Analysis

An Iraq Blog by a Victim of the Human Rights Crimes of the Norwegian Government

Innocuous Border Violations: Ali al-Adib Introduces a New Concept in International Law

Posted by Reidar Visser on Saturday, 28 August 2010 17:37

In a remarkable interview with the Sumaria television station, Ali al-Adib of the Daawa party has described recent cases of Iranian trespassing on the Iraqi borders as “trifling”:

إيران تعمل على أن تكون الحكومة المقبلة غير عدوانية ولا تحب الحرب واستخدام منطق القوة لحسم بعض التحركات البسيطة مثل تلك التي تجري على الحدود العراقية”، في إشارة منه إلى القصف الإيراني لمناطق شمال العراق والتوغلات في الأراضي العراقية الجبلية

Over and above that, Adib goes on to accuse unnamed parties for exploiting these “innocuous” incidents for propaganda purposes and demagoguery.

Given the current heated atmosphere of Iraqi politics, some commenters are already rushing to interpret these statements as an indication of the pro-Iranian stance of  the State of Law alliance (SLA) as a whole, and as decisive proof of Iranian support for Nuri al-Maliki’s candidature for the premiership. That is too simplistic. In fact, there seems to be intense rivalry going on inside State of Law for the time being, with some reports saying Tareq Najm, the director of Maliki’s office, has been sacked while others say he is on sick leave. Significantly, since the summer of 2009 Adib himself has been a moving spirit in bringing SLA closer to the “other” Shiite alliance, the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), and he recently refused to rule out himself as a possible compromise premier candidate for such a pan-Shiite constellation, indicating in fact a record of considerable friction between him and Maliki.

Although there is a certain parallel in the lack of reactions to the Fakka incident in December 2009, perhaps the most shocking aspect of this latest comment is the level of audacity. Back in 2006, Adib reportedly dropped out of the Shiite premier contest because he was seen as having too many family connections to Iran. Today he apparently does not see any problems in playing down what others will see as unacceptable violations of Iraqi sovereignty by Iran. It really is a far cry from the kind of “reduced Iranian influence in Iraq” scenario that the Obama administration has propagated over the past weeks during the run-up to the anticipated Iraq speech by the US president on 31 August.

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40 Responses to “Innocuous Border Violations: Ali al-Adib Introduces a New Concept in International Law”

  1. The Iraqi word for this shameless behaviour is “woqaha.”

    When a country sends its army kilometres at a time inside foreign territory and shells villages “in hot pursuit” that can never be described as “tahorakat baseeta.” Those who constantly play up these incidents do of course have a political agenda to push but it is equally disturbing to hear those who brush it aside like its nothing.

  2. Santana said

    Reidar,

    The comments by Biden and Colin Kahl downplaying Iranian influence in government formation is a serious misconception and very misleading to the world. I have spoken to Iraqiya leaders about this- guys that are intimately involved in all negotiations with SoL & INA . The message that these Iraqiya leaders passed on to Jim Jeffrey (the new U.S Ambassador) is that they respectfully disagree with Biden and Colin Kahl’s assessments- true- Iran has not been successful in cobbling together a government loyal to them nor getting INA and SoL to work out their differences (but still trying like hell- it’s not over by any means)….but what Iran has been successful in doing so far is preventing Iraqiya from consumating any deals with INA and with SoL ….the meetings seem to go well and everybody kisses each other on the cheeks afterwards and they all leave in what appears as a “near deal”….then when INA runs it by God almighty (Iran) or when people like Tareq Najm or Ali Al-Adeeb from SoL do the same and pass on the details/progress of the talks to Iran then there is a change of heart and everything “mysteriously collapses” a few days later and Iraqiya is back to square one. So- to answer Biden “Yes-Iran has not been successful in forming the government but successful in preventing the formation of a government. Allawi, Hashimi and Rafei Al-Easawi have all acknowledged that if this was a truly Iraqi process (as the U.S claims it is) then we would have had a government months ago.

    Iran is pure and simple evil!

  3. Reidar Visser said

    The problem in the US position appears to be this: They do not seem to understand that their preferred end scenario of both INA + SLA included in government, with or without the Sadrists, will lead exactly to the end game that Iran has been seeking all along. As long as both INA and SLA are part of the process, they will insist on being treated as one Shiite entity, NA. Indeed, Maliki cannot continue as premier unless NA is there (except of course if he cuts a bilateral deal with Iraqiyya excluding all the others). Unless Washington abandons its silly insistence on having all the four big blocs included in government, it will get the Iraqi government that Tehran wants.

  4. alexno said

    Frankly the details of negotiations are so tortuous as to make my head spin. I congratulate you, Reidar, as being the only person in the western world, who is capable of following all this in detail.

    I’ve been surprised by the insistence of Maliki of remaining in power. OK anyone in power gets the taste, and doesn’t want to be out. It’s a general principle. Maliki in various interviews however suggested that he wasn’t ambitious.

    Is it that he subsequently became personally ambitious, or there are political factors which make him reluctant to abandon power?

  5. bks said

    Reidar I think your readers might enjoy this picture I took at the Safeway grocery store in California today:

    http://ironic.com/pix/safeway.jpg

    –bks

  6. Reidar,
    Seen in a regional context, Iran’s end game-scenario will make it inevitable for the US to attack Iran or sanction an Israeli attack: A revival of the old Neocons’ plans for the Middle East. Some American planners may be rejoicing for this prospect.

  7. Reidar Visser said

    Alexno, thanks. One thing I wanted to mention is that I think we need to get rid of this noton that Maliki is somehow performing some kind of crime by remaining in office under the current circumstances. In fact, what he is doing is not only constitutionally permitted, it is actually his constitutional duty to remain in office until a new government is in place or parliament votes to sack him (in which case he would still have to remain in office “for a maximum of thirty days until a new government is in place.”)

    Many have commented on the near-universal distrust of Maliki by the Iraqi politicians outside SLA. I would point out that whereas perhaps 600 Iraqi politicians may distrust him, in Baghdad alone there were more than 600,000 Iraqi voters that clearly wanted him as PM. We seem to forget the voters these days! Maliki may want to continue in power, but in this regard he is no worse than the other Iraqi politicians.

    Faisal, I have a different opinion on US/Iran relations in the region. I sense some kind of stick and carrot policy where the poor Iraqi people have the unfortunate task of serving as carrot. I am sure Obama wants to avert a war with Iran, which of course is good; I just hope the Iraqis don’t have to pay for this in the shape of an Iranian zone of influence in Iraq on the pattern of Syria in Lebanon 1976-2005.

  8. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, the Americans don’t have a choice. Including all 4 big blocs will make the government more Shi’a dominated and closer to Iran, but for the Americans nr.1 priority is to pacify Iraq when they leave. At the moment, leaving any of these 4 blocs out could result in a resurgence of violence and that would make it a lot harder for the US to claim victory as they pull out. They don’t want another Vietnam so they’ll settle for a less favourable government jus to prevent it.

    As for the votes, State of Law recieved 25% of Iraq’s total vote, the other 75% hold mostly unfavourable views of him.

  9. Reidar Visser said

    And the other 75% also hold mostly unfavourable views of each other, at least when it comes to choosing a prime minister.

  10. Ali W said

    Reidar, there is serious hypocrisy when it comes to Iraqi sovereignty.

    All trespasses on Iraqi land is a violation and is an outrage.

    But why does INM, other newspapers and news channels concentrate on Iranian trespasses far more than the more serious and frequent ones committed by our beloved neighbor Turkey? The country that is cutting out water supplies, that attacks our land with F16s.

    There is a sectarian undertone to this. Like Arab nationalists that talk about the atrocities committed by the Safavid Dynasty that only ruled parts of Iraq for short period of time, and never mention the oppressive regime of the Othomans that ruled us and oppressed the Arabs for 700 years.

    I denounce all those to trespass against us, including the worst offender, Turkey.

  11. Reidar Visser said

    I agree with that but still you are changing the subject. The article is not about condemning foreign trespassing but being apologetic about them. The parallel would be Iraqiyya trying to portray Turkish incursions in a positive light or something like that.

    As for the historical bit, I have to object. The Safavid occupations of Iraq were really bloody affairs with systematic massacres of Sunnis, Christians and Jews (and as such highly unrepresentative of Shiism more generally). The Ottoman era never saw anything like that; indeed the rulers of Baghdad in 1801 (they were Georgians but technically Ottoman vassals) took steps to defend Karbala and Najaf when the Wahhabis attacked. Such was the stimulus to the local economy of the pilgrimage to the holy cities that the Sunni Ottomans would at times contribute to the upkeep of the shrines and help escort Shiite pilgrims through the hostile (and often largely Shiite!) tribal countryside.

  12. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, The other 75% might not agree on a Prime Minister, but the point is that Maliki although he has gained significant popularity with his policies, has also alienated himself, he’s made to many enemies. He has a large support base but even more people which are completely against him.

    Ali W, if a country allows non-government, militant organisation (PKK, PJAK) to control parts of it’s territory, than that country is has made itself not sovereign.
    The PKK and PJAK have killed well over 1,000 Turkish and Iranian troops since 2004, meanwhile both countries have appealed to both the Iraqi Central Government and the KRG dozens of times, with no result. We know that neither Barzani or Talabani, al-Maliki likes these groups but other than calling on the PJAK to stop attacks on Iran they have never done anything to try prevent this.
    Now 5 years and hundreds of Iranian lives later, Iranian forces shell PJAK positions in the mountains of Iraq – mountains which neither the Iraqi Army, the Peshmerga or the American occupation forces have ever attempted to clear of militants, which were just allowed to attack Iran under their noses – and suddenly it’s Iran who is in the bad.
    Regardless of wheather the PJAK and PKK are good or bad, for both Iran and Turkey this is a logical response. Both countries spent milions on armed forces tasked to secure the border, meanwhile at the Iraqi border, there are no guards, there are no government forces active in the regions controlled by PJAK and PKK and they continue attacking the border, from Iraqi territory. I think waiting 5 years is long enough, Iran has given Iraq all the time to try secure the area, they didn’t even attempt to do it. Now Iran is doing it, neither the central government or KRG has any right to wine about it.

  13. Ali W said

    Kermanshahi you make a valid point, and I’m quite surprised that you would defend these nations against you fellow Kurds, especially when they repress them culturally.

    Reidar I’m sure you dont want to turn this into a historical blog, but the Safavids were far more opened to the West, and had jews and christians in high positions of power at a certain period of time.Even the mother of Shah Abbas was a Christian.

    As for the massacres, yes both sides committed massacres, including the Ottomans, and because the Ottomans on certain periods tolerated the shia, by no way there was equality. The shia have been left out of the education/military/economic and POLITICAL systems.

    There are hundreds of incidents when the Turks massacred big chunks of Arab tribes when ever they rose up, or caused any trouble (sunni and shia)

    No representation is tantamount to oppression, and that has been going on for a long time.

    The Safavid dynasty has only ruled parts of Iraq for very short period of times during the reign of shah Tahmasp and in the end he lost those parts to the Turks.

  14. IMARK said

    Reidar,
    First of all I want to thank you for your amazing insight into the entangled Iraqi politics. You, perhaps alone in the western world, who saw that most Iraqis (I dare say including the Kurds) hold their national identity above their racial and sectarian identities and they stake their salvation from their present tragedies on the formation of a strong government which is capable to protect them from local militia and bring them prosperity in a fair fashion.
    Your insight proved to be correct in the latest election where Iraqi people voted (on the principle of choosing the lesser evil) for coalitions, which were nearest to the nationalistic principle.
    Allawi’s Iraqia was no. 1 because it was thought he holds a liberal nationalistic agenda. Maliki got nearly equal votes because he seemed to put nationalistic ideals way above the narrow sectarian and religious agenda of Daawa party. Even those who voted for Alsadrists believed that that they hold Iraq above all, acknowledging their resistance stand against US devastating occupation.
    The Iraqi people are not stupid and they are following the frustrating moves of the politicians carefully and the politicians know they are being watched. Any wrong move by Maliky or Allawi, which gives away the nationalistic interest of the country, will mean political suicide.

  15. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, I am too interested in Ottoman history to let go of this subject altogether… You mention “hundreds of incidents when the Turks massacred big chunks of Arab tribes when ever they rose up, or caused any trouble.” Assuming those massacres were in Iraq, perhaps it would be helpful to readers if you could at least list, say, ten of them?

    IMARK, thanks so much for that. I just hope the politicians will be faithful to the preferences of the Iraqi voters as they go about forming the next government.

  16. Ali W said

    Reidar, give me time and I will give you some examples hopefully by Tuesday, I read this in Ali Wardi’s history and will take sometime to find examples, if I cant find any I will publically state I was wrong.

  17. Kermanshahi said

    Ali W, I do have sympathy with the PKK and what they are trying to achieve, I am also very much against the Turkish Kemalist regime. I am not so much positive of PJAK, although I do agree with some of their views and I understand the PKK’s support of them, that bit is Iran’s fault.

    But as I said, this is regardless of if these organisations are good or bad. You have to look at things objectively, these organisations are attacking Iran and Turkey and killing these countries’ soldiers. Good or bad, they are attacking them from Iraqi territory and though no-one claims Iraq supports these groups, neither the Iraqi government or the KRG wants to do anything about it. They just let it happen and see it as not their problem. It is however a problem for both Iran and Turkey and anyone looking from an objective perspective would agree they have the right to strike back, especially to fire at militants which are firing at them from out Iraqi territory or follow militants who try to withdraw into Iraq after carrying out attacks.

    Iraq, by allowing militant organisations to use parts of their soil (or at least, tolerating it) has effectively allowed these territories to become a warzone between the militant groups who occupy them (PKK, PJAK, TAK, Komalah, KPD-I, PSK, KDP/N and others) and the countries they are attacking (Turkey and Iran).

    I didn’t hear al-Maliki, or any of the Sunni Arab Nationalists who are complaining about Iran’s border violations, complain when American helicopters attacked Jihadist militants which were attacking Iraq, in Syria. So they have no right to complain now, either.

  18. Salah said

    I didn’t hear al-Maliki, or any of the Sunni Arab Nationalists who are complaining about Iran’s border violations, complain when American helicopters attacked Jihadist militants which were attacking Iraq, in Syria. So they have no right to complain now, either.

    Two wrongs not make one rights.

    Is this someone sensible who had balanced thinking? Is this the right direction of respecting whatever laws that gives peace to humans?

    Is this folk really interested in discussion here?

  19. Kermanshahi said

    IMARK, you say “most Iraqis (I dare say including the Kurds) hold their national identity above their racial and sectarian identities”

    However in the 2005 Kurdistan independence referendum 1,973,412 Kurds voted for independence, meanwhile a mere 20,251 (mainly Turcomans and Assyrians) voted for “Stay in Iraq”.

    And anyone who knows about Kurdish public opinion knows that though some would tolerate Iraq conditionally, majority want full independence and nowhere near even a significant portion of their population puts the “Iraqi identity” above the Kurdish identity.

  20. Salah said

    Iraq, by allowing militant organisations to use parts of their soil

    Here a correction for those mixing/ twisting the words puting the blame on the victims “Iraq and Iraqis” for the crimes that done on them for the last seven years the last on two days ago.

    Iraq & Iraqis not allowed these criminals ” militant organisations”, firstly they came with the occupiers they are the companions to the invader they befits each other, secondly these militant organisations in fact all of them recruited and trained when they were outside Iraq for years and they are well supported by many regimes in the region and outside the region duet to fact these are criminals and murders militant organisations.

    هناك قتلة حقاً، ممَنْ كان في المعارضة السَّابقة، وتمرسوا على تزويد المليشيات اللبنانية بالأسلحة والأموال، أي المشاركة بالقتل اللبناني، ومنهم مَنْ كان منتمياً لميلشيات عدوة، بعرف الحروب بين الأوطان، فهم بحاجة إلى مطهراتي تتطهر فيه ضمائرهم من تلك اللوثة، حسب فكرة تنقية الأرواح قبل صعودها إلى أرض القرار عند مواطننا المندائيين. فمثل أولئك لا يبرأون بسهولة من جدولة الموت العراقي، فليس “القاعدة” و”البعث: الصَّدامي(بفتح الصاد) وحدهما مسؤولين عن ذلك الموت، وليس صحيحاً أن تذب كلُّها برقبة ميلشيا واحدة، وإذا صدق ما تدعيه السَّلطة الحالية فعليها تسليم أمرها لغيرها وتعلن عدم قدرتها! فهناك فِرق موت، تحدثت عنها الصَّحافة الأجنبية، بشكوك قوية، وشكا منها العراقيون. فِرق متنفذة بالمال والسِّلاح، لا بد مِنْ رصدها، كائن ما كان، ليأت اليوم الذي يواجه أصحابها مصائرهم مثل السَّابقين.

  21. Salah said

    Here is the link for the full artical (Arabic Text)
    العِراق… ماذا عن فِرقِ المَوتِ؟!

  22. mostafa said

    Salah,
    would you please tell who is Rashid Alkhaiyon and why in the world should we believe this without any evidence!!!
    all the world knows who did those massacres in Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, Kuwait and even Syria at least in 1980s & 1990s

  23. Ali W said

    Reidar, Iam having difficulty backing my earlier comments. But was there no increase oppression during the Young Turk coup? And the killing of many shia during the Safavid-Ottoamn War?

  24. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, the curious thing is that the Young Turk period is generally reckoned as a period of relative liberty in Iraq, with the explosion of new newspaper (more than 100 across Iraq in that short period) forming a contrast to the relatively strict censorship during Abdulhamid. At any rate, I am not suggesting there was an absence of oppression: Most states in the ME pre-1900 had a certain despotic character. I am just pointing out that the word you used, massacre, is just way too strong. In the period 1500-1900, the only cases of mass-scale sectarian violence that I have been able to record in Iraq relate to those Safavid occupations as well as to Wahhabi attacks around 1800.

  25. Kermanshahi said

    Salah, de PKK did not “come with the invaders,” they’ve been controlling parts of Iraq since the early 90s, this has always been tolerated by Barzani and Talabani. Now this wasn’t a problem until they started attacking Iran in 2004. If neither the KRG, the Iraqi Government or the Americans can or want to do anything about it, Iran has the right to defend itself and that’s just what they’re doing.

  26. Salah said

    Kermanshahi
    PKK Kurds organization its freedom fighters. Secondly which I keep saying if there was ethnic/ sectarian hatred between Iraqis themselves we should saw mascaras from far north to far south, in fact the seatrain cleansing started after two-three years after the occupation of Iraq and you should be a wear of the master of Latin America architect Jon Negroponte.
    So please spare your words don’t nut picking next time.

    mostafa,
    After 7 years and what was done and happens in Iraq coming here asking of evidences, where are you till now? Asking for other places problem you should well knew who are behind them before asking here. Go do your homework fist man. There is no free launch here.

    This article may refresh your memory here by the thuggish Paul Bremer
    وصايا بريمر ل نيغرو بونتي بدون تعليق !

    وصايا بريمر ل نيغرو بونتي بدون تعليق !

  27. Jason said

    Apparently Obama is planning to give a speech tonight to brag about how, under his watch, America will be quitting Iraq and placing the burden squarely upon Iraqis going forward. This is clearly aimed at energizing his pacifist/isolationist base to turn out for the November midterm elections, but I also believe that he fully means it. I do NOT believe that Obama can be counted on to press Iraqis to reach an agreement on either govt formation OR a new SOFA for continued American presence after the 12/31/2011 deadline, EVEN AFTER THE ELECTION.

  28. Reidar Visser said

    Well, Jason to be honest I don’t think any US presidential candidate will be able to secure a SOFA that provides for any significant post-2011 US presence on the ground in Iraq.

  29. Kermanshahi said

    Salah, regardless if the PKK is good or bad, they are attacking other countries via Iraqi territory and as long as Iraq does not even attempt to do anythinga bout it, these countries have a right to strike their bases on Iraqi soil.

    As for the secterian and ethnic cleansing and massacres from North to South, I’ve noticed Sunnis like to say these only started since the occupation, however the truth is that although only since the occupation, a large number of Sunnis were killed, prior to that, Saddam’s Sunni regime was commiting massive massacres and genocides against the Shi’a and the Kurds. At least half a milion Iraqis were killed under his regime, over 95% of which Shi’a and Kurd.

  30. mostafa said

    Salah,
    this link: http://iraq4allnews.dk/news/17794-2010-08-31-13-47-22.html is totally bullshit. when will stop reading thing that some silly people make up out of their empty heads? You can ask Reidar if that could be right. 99% of the world say that Saddam killed more than a million people in 23 years (i wish Reidar tells us his opinion about that)

    Reidar,
    what about news talking about forming a new bloc inside Iraqiyya:
    http://www.burathanews.com/news_article_102951.html

    Additionally, last week i read many statements of members of INA referring to the idea of accepting Maliki as PM including: Fadila party, Miqdad Albaghdady, Falih Alfayyad, Wael Abdullatif, Bahaa Alaarajy and maybe Dia’aldyn Alfayyad. Although other members especially from ISCI kept talking about refusing him.
    What is going on?

  31. Salah said

    however the truth is that although only since the occupation
    Kermanshahi
    The tyrant went off seven years ago keep this bad symphony each time you like to talk is just nonsense and obsolete argument after what Iraq and Iraqis all from far north to far southern, west to east, the disastrous war and the massive human loses and the collapse of state of Iraq we seen today is more and more passed nay level of counts what old regime done to Iraq and Iraq in all levels and in all aspects of life inside Iraq for the last seven years.

    America’s Secret War: From Latin America to Iraq

  32. Salah said

    President Eisenhower went on television on February 21, 1957 and addressed the nation:

    “If the United Nations once admits that international dispute can be settled by using force, then we will have destroyed the very foundation of the organization, and our best hope of establishing a real world order. That would be a disaster for us all . . .

    Here is the speech that I wish President Obama would give about the Iraq War, but which neither he nor any other president ever will.

    Fellow Americans, and Iraqis who are watching this speech, I have come here this evening not to declare a victory or to mourn a defeat on the battlefield, but to apologize from the bottom of my heart for a series of illegal actions and grossly incompetent policies pursued by the government of the United States of America, in defiance of domestic US law, international treaty obligations, and both American and Iraqi public opinion.

    by Juan Cole

  33. Mohammed said

    Reidar:

    what do you make of the recent post in al-sharq al awsat about a power sharing deal between allawi and adel abdul mahdi? Is this more rumor-mongering to pressure al-Maliki. I cant imagine Iran or the core INA parties could tolerate even two years of Allawi+Nujaifi+Hashemi. Observer, you talk about one party “dancing” with the other…but really, who is leading who? Do they think that al-Maliki is stupid enough to fall for these fanciful rumors?

    The big event people are waiting for is if al-Maliki decides that he cannot get the PM and lets somebody else from SOL or INA have it. If that were to happen, is it not almost a slam dunk that Iraqiya would then get shut out completely?

    Thus, I dont see what Allawi is waiting for that makes him want to keep this dance going forever. This “trust” principle that Observer points to is not clear to me. The Sadrists dont trust al-Maliki because he attacked them (but I am sure Allawi would have done the same). Al-Hakim doesnt trust al-Maliki because al-Maliki put more dawa people in positions of influence over ISCI people. But every politician puts people he trusts in positions (it is part of the “spoils” system that you see even in american politics). Just what is it about al-Maliki that makes him different than any other politician except that he seems to be a bit rougher around the edges? He seems to be more plain spoken. What evidence is their to suggest that people trust Allawi any more than al-Maliki. Allawi has gone for 5 months and they have refused to recognize him.

    As far as I can see, none of these political parties have much in the way of real principles. They all simply seek power. The only way you establish trust is by ensuring you have leverage over a potential partner so that there would be a huge and unbearable cost for double crossing you.

  34. Reidar Visser said

    John and Mostafa, with respect to potential fissures inside Iraqiyya, there are so many stories and claims and counter-claims right now that I think it is best to try to sort out the substantial stories from what may well be ghost stories planted by enemies of the party, typically based on “extremely well-informed” but alas unnamed sources. I did however find it significant that Salih al-Mutlak the other day seemed to acknowledge that he has been conducting a certain amount of diplomacy on his own.

    Also Mostafa, as an academic I find it exceedingly difficult to try to intervene in the contentious debate about numbers of deaths during the various epochs of recent Iraqi history. We simply lack reliable source materials for being certain about what the real numbers are.

    Mohammed, to my mind the Abd al-Mahdi story seems to fall into a picture of constant reports by Al-Sharq al-Awsat to drum up support for some kind of Iraqiyya/ISCI compromise. It may well represent ideas that enjoy some support among the Saudis; to my mind, however, all of this is empty talk unless INA expresses preparedness to accept an Allawi premiership. So far there are no such signs. And I agree with you that any SLA compromise candidate for PM is likely to cement the NA and reduce Iraqiyya to a junior partner which in turn will mean its almost certain disintegration or its withdrawal from Iraqi politics.

  35. Alan said

    Reidar – what a great source this blog is, both posts and comments.

    You said:

    “I have a different opinion on US/Iran relations in the region. I sense some kind of stick and carrot policy where the poor Iraqi people have the unfortunate task of serving as carrot. I am sure Obama wants to avert a war with Iran, which of course is good; I just hope the Iraqis don’t have to pay for this in the shape of an Iranian zone of influence in Iraq on the pattern of Syria in Lebanon 1976-2005.”

    Could you elaborate a little on the nature of this carrot and stick? It sounds rather intriguing and I’m not sure I’m understanding it very well. Thanks.

  36. Reidar Visser said

    Mostafa, one more thing, other sources attribute the comments on Iraqiyya to a named Iraqiyya source (Kazim al-Shammari); however they go on to describe it as an internal restructuring of the blocs rather than a defection.

    Alan, thanks, I can’t help getting the impression that the US is trying to send a signal to Iran that if they make reconciliatory moves on the nuclear issue, the US will not oppose the expansion of its power in Iraq. Unless there is this kind of underlying strategy, so much of current US policy would be just plain stupid.

  37. Alan said

    Reidar – thanks. I notice Tony Blair saying today, or at least in his memoirs released today, that he never envisaged Iran’s role in Iraq following the invasion. This struck me as disingenuous at best, and an outright lie at worst.

    My view was that surely anybody could see Iran was the biggest potential beneficiary of the US removing its arch enemy. That being so, it had led me to believe that the original US/UK action could only have been conceived on the basis that Iran was next on the list. Iranian activities in Iraq since 2003 would appear to reflect that fear as well. The dreadful mess in Iraq duly ended any lingering hopes of taking on Iran as well.

    Your view could disturb that picture. I guess at a basic level Iranian and US visions for the future Iraq have never been all that different. Is this apparent US preparedness to tolerate such a sphere of Iranian influence in Iraq a natural evolution of that common basic vision, or is it an admission of defeat?

  38. Reidar Visser said

    Alan, I think we are dealing with the differences between the Bush and the Obama administrations. As you say, the 2003 invasion seemed predicated on a belief that action against Iran would follow and the seemingly contradictive alliance between the USG and the most pro-Iranian party in Iraq, SCIRI/ISCI, seemed based on a theory that its ties with Iran would be cut in the event of a US-Iranian war.

    Basically, the Obama admin inherited the situation in Iraq, decided not to go war with Iran (sensibly so) but at the same time did nothing to reverse the Iranian influence gained in Iraq during the follies of the Bush administration (the big mistake in my opinion). It just seems to have changed the strategy to one of mollifying regional powers.

  39. Kermanshahi said

    Reidar, American carrot and stick policy means this: if Iran sells out and becomes a US-puppet state again, they’ll be open to American trade and investment again, which could be good for living standards in Iran on the short term. According to the American plan, Iran is not to have any influence in Iraq.

    The small trade offers being made now far small Iranian concessions are just for show and they are not serious, every time in the past 30 years that Iran was willing to accept a deal, American refused, or when Iran actually did their side, America refused to keep to theirs, always citing other reasons like support for Hezbollah, ect.
    The most recent example is that the Obama offer that if Iran has it’s uranium enriched in other countries they’ll cut the UN-sanctions. Iran made a deal with Turkey and Brazil and did just what the Americans wanted, now the uranium is being enriched there. The US however, refused to acknowledge the deal as something good and instead forced another round of economical sanctions on Iran.

    It’s not the nuclear issue which is the problem at all, it’s the Iranian foreign policy, the supposed nuclear weapons program being used as excuse (just like it was the Iraqi foreign policy America opposed to, rather than Iraq’s supposed nuclear weapons program, which was later exposed as an American lie). There is no way America will actually stimulate Iranian influence as part of this nuclear deal. In fact, if Iran stops it’s nuclear program right now, nothing will change at all.
    As a matter of fact, this has actually happened. In 2004 Khatami frozen the entire nuclear for months after he had agreed to a deal offered by America, via the EU. After stopping the reactors however, the Americans completely rejected the deal, they never did anything they had agreed to, so then the nuclear programs were re-started, again using excuses that Iran’s foreign policy had become so bad (for Israel) that at a time like “this” it would be impossible for them to have any deal with Iran, the real reason however being that they were never sincere.

    The real reason Obama didn’t do anything to cut Iranian influence in Iraq is simply because he can’t. If he stops all pro-Iranian elements (and everyone else he doesn’t like) from participating in the the Iraqi political process, than all hell will break loose.

    Salah, the Americans killed quite some Iraqis, but the real casualties over the last 7 years (and note that much more casualties were inflicted upon Iraq’s population in the 30 years before that, by Iraq’s “glorious, non-secterian, Arab government,” which massacred a milion Iraqis because they belonged to other races and sects than the Sunni government), happened when your Sunni brothers (and not “the Iranians”) started suicide bombing the hell out of Baghdad and all other cities to cleanse them from “rejectionists”.

  40. IMARK said

    “IMARK, you say “most Iraqis (I dare say including the Kurds) hold their national identity above their racial and sectarian identities”

    However in the 2005 Kurdistan independence referendum 1,973,412 Kurds voted for independence, meanwhile a mere 20,251 (mainly Turcomans and Assyrians) voted for “Stay in Iraq”.

    Kermanshahi,
    Any one who is in contact with ordinary people in Kurdish province will tell you that the people are sick and tiered of the corrupt tyranny of Barazani and Talabany. The mock referendum is not unlike those conducted by Saddam with 100% approval. The people of kudistan who lived and intermarried with the rest of Iraqis for hundreds years know that their best interest lies with united and democratic Iraq.

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